I know somebody who goes to every pro-immigrant protest and posts endless pro-immigration screeds.
Then recently I saw her tear into and accuse of racism an immigrant who took an idiomatic expression in English literally and misinterpreted it. The immigrant is from far away and has no reason to be aware of the complex speech codes in the US where every watermelon can be perceived as a racial slur. Both participants in the situation were very befuddled by the other person’s assumptions.
I recently had a weird moment when a very young and clearly recent immigrant loudly and aggressively confronted me at a store for buying Klara a second lollipop after she unwrapped the first one and was disappointed by its color. The immigrant comes from a culture where child-rearing is approached from the “it takes a village” standpoint. Since I’m an immigrant myself, I found the situation cute. But knowing my acquaintance from the first story, I’m well-aware that she’d be traumatized by such an experience. And I wouldn’t criticize her for that because it’s genuinely difficult to be confronted with cultural difference.
The folks who chant “diversity is our strength” tend to believe that diversity means being surrounded by people who look different but are identical to you in everything else. They don’t realize that physical appearance or clothing are not what diversity is about. Not only are they not willing to adapt to the differences in thinking, being and speaking that diversity brings, they can’t even accept that these differences exist. Our chief ideology apparatchik on campus, for instance, threw a veritable tantrum when I gently informed him that many people around the world react with contempt and not gratitude to the US campus speech codes. He’s a great champion of diversity but only of the kind that has to do with physical appearance.
This is why these folks inevitably assume that anybody who finds it taxing to coexist with actual diversity must be reacting to the physical appearance of diversity. This narrowness of mind seems impossible until you remember that such people are convinced that theirs is the only correct, good and virtuous way of thinking and being. In such a worldview, cultural differences simply don’t exist. Every deviation from The Only Right Way To Be is a manifestation of evil. This is a deeply religious approach where the role of God is claimed by oneself.